I have loved quinces for quite a while now. We always buy Maggie Beer’s quince paste to have with cheese and biscuits, but I have to admit for quite a long time, I really didn’t know what quinces were.
When you actually see the fruit, they look nothing like you’d expect, sort of like large lumpy pears. They aren’t a fruit that is eaten raw however, slow cooking is the only way to go for quinces.
I have attempted cooking quinces three times now. Only once successfully. The key as I have now found, to the deep and rich ruby colour is to cook the quinces with the cores, and remove them after. Apparently lots of pectin is in the cores, which helps the quinces turn that lovely ruby colour. I have also found that poaching them in the oven, is much easier than doing it on the stove.
To me, slow cooking and poaching feels like such a Winter-y thing to do. Probably because here in Australia, having the oven or stove on for hours at a time in Summer just isn’t practical! The fruits that lend themselves to such methods of cooking are also in season in the colder months. Though it seems few fruits and vegetables aren’t available almost year round. Quince is one of the rarities that only appear in green grocers or farmers markets once Autumn starts. Which to me is a very clear sign that Summer has come to an end, and it’s time to get Winter baking!
I found this recipe for Quince Butter via Sophie Hansen of Local is Lovely, who never fails to impress me with snippets of country life and delicious recipes that can be found on her blog. When I saw the recipe, I just knew it would work much better than my last attempts. And it did. I didn’t follow the recipe to the end, just until I had poached the quinces. Though I don’t doubt that quince butter would be as tasty as it sounds!
I used some of my poached quinces to make a frangipane tart (based on this recipe), then used some to make quince and vanilla muffins. I added four tablespoons of the poaching liquid to the muffin mixture, along with an extra quarter cup of self raising flour, one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, topped each muffin with small pieces of poached quince and sprinkled them with raw sugar.
I froze the muffins after they had cooled, and we are still enjoying them. The frangipane tart however, is long gone!
Any left over poached quinces can be placed in a jar with the poaching liquid and stored in the fridge.